During the Toronto International Film Festival, I sat down with two-time Oscar-nominated film editor Joe Walker. Walker was attending the festival for the world premiere of Steve McQueen’s new film, Widows. Our conversation in Toronto, which took place prior to the world premiere, where the film was met with glowing reviews.
Widows opens in theaters tomorrow, November 16, 2018.
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Posted on Monday, November 12th, 2018 by Fred Topel
YouTube Premium’s latest original series Origin premieres this week. The first series created by writer Mika Watkins is a sci-fi ensemble show. Paul W.S. Anderson directed the first two episodes and executive produces alongside Watkins.
In the series, the spaceship Origin is on its way to a new colony, but several of its passengers wake up early. As they explore the ship to try to figure out what went wrong, they also learn about each other as the audience sees their backstory in flashbacks. The cast includes Natalia Tena, Tom Felton, Sen Mitsuji, Nora Arnezeder and Fraser James.
Anderson spoke with /Film by phone from the set of his next movie, Monster Hunter, based on the Capcom video game franchise. Origin premieres Wednesday, November 14 on YouTube Premium.
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Writer Allison Schroeder sure knows how to write a real deal feel-good movie. The screenwriter behind last year’s monster hit, Hidden Figures, and the co-writer of this year’s delightful Disney reimagining, Christopher Robin, can seamlessly pull at the heart strings with big or small fireworks, whether in a major tearjerker scene or during a tender moment between two characters sitting on a log. There’s a refreshing earnestness to the Oscar nominee’s work, which rings especially true in her elegantly simple and heartfelt adaptation of A.A. Milne‘s classic stories.
When Schroeder’s name appears in the opening credits of Christopher Robin alongside Tom McCarthy (Spotlight) and Alex Ross Perry (Queen of Earth), you know right away the iconic characters are in good hands. Schroeder recently told us a bit about her work with the director, being inspired by Milne’s words and stories, the trick of writing Pooh-isms, and her first job in the business, working on Pineapple Express.
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The women of Star Wars have always been one of the most marvelous parts of the galaxy far, far away. The only problem is that if you’ve only dipped your toes into the original canon, it might seem like there aren’t that many of them. Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia was a groundbreaking, Hutt-slaying, smart-mouthed, badass heroine, but other than her, the original trilogy was scarce on women with speaking roles. In the prequels we got Princess Amidala, but it’s once you delve into the larger world of Star Wars that you really get to explore the brilliant women of the galaxy.
Luckily for all of us, huge Star Wars fan Amy Ratcliffe and Lucasfilm have put together an absolutely splendid hardcover encyclopedia and art book that’s filled with the fantastic female characters who inhabit the galaxy that we love so much. Star Wars: Women of the Galaxy is available now and we were able to speak with Ratcliffe about how this whole endeavor came together.
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A Jeff Nichols movie hasn’t played in theaters in for two years now. We recently saw another project from the director of Take Shelter and Mud, a short film based on a Lucero song, but not since Loving has he shot another feature. However, based on all the projects he’s working on and the ideas he’s toying with, including an Alien Nation remake and an animated kids movie, we might not have to wait much longer for another Nichols feature. And when we do see his sixth movie, it’ll be a reflection of the times –Nichols is sure of that.
The filmmaker recently spoke with us for an extended interview about his short film The Long Way Back Home, and following up part one and part two of our conversation with him, we now dive into what’s next for Nichols, what he’s been binge-watching, and why he doesn’t believe we’re living in the golden age of television.
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I’m still trying to figure out Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria. It’s been more than a month since I saw the movie at Fantastic Fest, and I’ve caught it once more in the meantime. In the immediate aftermath of that first viewing, I was lucky enough to speak with two of the creative minds at the helm of this rebirth of Dario Argento’s classic horror film: screenwriter David Kajganich and actress Jessica Harper, who originated the role of Suzy Bannion in the 1977 original and plays a mysterious role in the remake.
The two were gracious with their time and answers, and I was especially pleased to know that some of my initial misgivings about the film were addressed and eased by Kajganich. I don’t know that I’ll ever wrap my head around this massive movie — which I can’t stop writing or talking about — but I do know that I appreciate the insight Kajganich and Harper gifted me, and I hope our conversation can help fellow readers who might be parsing out their own complicated thoughts.
Below, we discuss the film’s gender politics, the influence of German filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder (including a fun personal story from Harper about meeting him), and all that noise about a possible sequel.
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There’s a joke a few minutes in to what, Bo Burnham’s 2013 comedy special (now on Netflix) that’s almost elegant in its simplicity. The comedian, then twenty-three, begins talking about how he hates video editors before the special cuts abruptly to later in the routine, skipping over the bit entirely, as if the filmmakers, not the comedian, are in control. Whatever form the original joke may have taken on stage, its eventual end-point was the audience at home.
Such is the nature of the modern stand-up special, a form that is by no means new, but one that’s being constantly fine-tuned and experimented with as we plunge further into age of new media. Burnham is known for his hybridization of comedy and musical performance (and for directing recent A24 feature Eighth Grade) though few know his equally influential co-director on what and Make Happy, Christopher Storer, an unsung hero of the comedy special and one of Eighth Grade’s producers.
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Chicago native Ike Barinholtz has made a career out of scene stealing, from his earliest days as an improv performer with Improv Olympic and Second City (among others) and a cast member on MadTV in the early 2000s to bigger television roles in Eastbound & Down to The Mindy Project. In more recent years, Barinholtz landed sizable supporting roles in Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, Suicide Squad, Snatched, the Netflix film Bright, and a very funny turn in Blockers earlier this year.
But his latest work, The Oath, not only features his largest role to date, but it also marks his debut as a writer/director of a film that is part dark comedy, part family drama, and eventually, part high-tension thriller. Set primarily over the 24-hours surrounding a Thanksgiving feast hosted by Barinholtz’s Chris and wife Kai (Tiffany Haddish, in a wonderfully dialed-back performance) at their home, the story involves the (fictional) president wanting every American to sign a loyalty oath to the country.
As the nation grows closer to the oath’s Black Friday deadline, tensions and conflicts are on the rise, and while the oath is said to be voluntary, those who refuse to sign are treated like criminals and traitors. Imagine that, and then put the pressure of preparing a meal the entire family, which includes Chris’s mom (Nora Dunn), brother (Jon Barinholtz, Ike’s real-life sibling) and his instigator girlfriend (Meredith Hagner), sister (Carrie Brownstein) and her sickly husband (Jay Duplass). The situation spins out of control when two government agents (John Cho and Billy Magnussen) arrive at the front door. The film feels timely, relevant, and works as a genuine conversation starter. More importantly, The Oath makes me genuinely interesting to see what Barinholtz does next as a filmmaker.
/Film spoke to Barinholtz recently in Chicago about The Oath and how much of it was based on real-life conversations/arguments amongst his friends and family, the inspiration behind the film “loyalty oath,” and how he made sure the film found ways to poke fun at both conservatives and liberals who watch too much 24-hour news. The film is now playing in select theaters.
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Not that I make a point of getting hung up on awards in general or the Oscars specifically, but it’s almost impossible to wrap my brain around the fact that actor Carey Mulligan’s only Academy Award nomination was for her breakthrough performances as young Jenny Mellor in 2009’s An Education. Considering her fine work in such films as Public Enemies, Brothers, Never Let Me Go, Drive, Shame, Inside Llewyn Davis (this one might hurt the worst), Far from the Madding Crowd, Suffragette, and last year’s exceptional Mudbound, Mulligan has been so reliable in so many different types of roles that perhaps we’re guilty of taking her for granted.
Debuting at Sundance at the beginning of the year, her latest movie, Wildlife, marks the directorial debut from actor Paul Dano, who also co-wrote the screenplay with longtime life partner Zoe Kazan, adapting it from the novel by Richard Ford. In it, Mulligan plays Jeanette Brinson, mother to teenager Joe (Ed Oxenbould), and the pair finds themselves living alone circa the early 1960s in Great Falls, Montana, when her recently unemployed husband Jerry (Jake Gyllenhaal) decides to leave home to fight wildfires hundreds of miles away. The film is told largely from Joe’s perspective but the light it shines of Jeanette allows not only for Mulligan to turn in one of the finest performances of her career but also for her to sculpt a flawed characters put in an impossible situation, allowing her to make mistakes that she owns, resulting in one of the most progressive and provocative dramas you’ll likely see all year.
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Posted on Friday, November 2nd, 2018 by Fred Topel
Joseph Kahn is a prolific commercial and music video director, but he has only made three feature films. His first, Torque, was The Fast and the Furious on motorcycles, but he made it a spoof of The Fast and the Furious, and people expecting a straight Fast and the Furious weren’t on board. He made Detention independently, but the teen slasher comedy with time travel was a tough sell for distributors, even as a Josh Hutcherson vehicle.
On the surface, Bodied would be Kahn’s most commercial film. It’s about a college kid, Adam (Callum Worthy), who enters the world of battle rap an underdog, and becomes a champion. But there’s more to Bodied than a hero’s journey. The film takes Adam to task for being a white kid infiltrating a multi-cultural world. Though fellow rapper Behn Grymm (Jackie Long) tells him anything goes in battle rap, Adam does face consequences for his raps.
Kahn spoke with /Film in Los Angeles this month. He filmed Bodied in 2016 and it played festivals in 2017, so the film is entering an even more volatile powderkeg of a world than he imagined in 2018. Some mild spoilers follow in this thematic discussion, so if you’re already sold, read this after you see Bodied in theaters November 2 or on YouTube Premium November 28.
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